I literally count the days leading up to our Cookie Exchange at my office. The girls and a guy who joined in on this annual tradition definitely outdid their baking skills this year! After circling the table not once, but twice to gather our allotment of sweets, I had over 60 cookies in my tupperware container. It was hard to resist tasting ALL of them when I took them back to my desk but let me just say, I sampled a couple on the drive home and then after dinner. My hips won’t thank you all for participating but my tummy will.
I wanted to create an easy recipe for this event. We were told that each of us were to bake 5 dozen cookies (60) and that requires time and patience. I have baked oatmeal cookies a zillion times and I figured why not use a basic recipe but tweak the end product. I topped some of the cookie dough with dried cranberries and for the balance of the cookies I dipped them halfway into dark chocolate, sprinkled the balance with either fleur de sel or chocolate sprinkles and shredded coconut. A nice variety of cookies while still using the same dough.
Now let’s get to the fun part. What’s my favourite thing about these cookies or any cookies for that matter? There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting from the kitchen. “Cookie Aroma” is the key to my happiness and anyone who happens to walk through the door when I’m baking knows exactly what’s transpiring in the SBE kitchen. I don’t know what it is exactly, but adding chocolate to any recipe makes me swoon. I love using semi-sweet or dark chocolate in my baked goods. Very, very rarely do I use milk chocolate but always have it on hand in case my boys request it. They are still huge fans of a milk chocolate frosting I make for their favourite marble bundt cake.
I’m going to tell you what makes a oatmeal cookie chewy. It’s all due to the addition of brown sugar. Whether you use light brown or dark brown also makes a difference in the overall texture of the cookie too. Although they are totally interchangeable, light brown sugar usually has 3.5% molasses and dark brown sugar has double that amount, 6.5% molasses. This helps dark brown sugar have a more deep, complex flavor that’s closer to toffee or caramel. What did I use for these? Believe it or not, a mixture of both because I was using up what I had in the pantry.
Here’s a quick fact. If you recipe doesn’t specify “light” or “dark” brown sugar it probably assumes you are going to use light brown. The exception is when you’re making gingerbread….the molasses flavour in the dark brown sure is a sure fire winner combined with the spices – cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
And here are a few tricks to make the perfect chewy oatmeal cookie:
1. ALWAYS USE QUICK COOKING OLD FASHIONED OATS. The reason for this is that it helps to hold the cookie together better due it’s finer texture.
2. DO NOT OVERBAKE YOUR COOKIES. The edges should just be lightly golden brown and the middle should look a little underdone. I know it’s tempting to keep baking them but the fact of the matter is, they will bake a little longer while cooling on the cookie sheet.
3. BAKE AT A LOWER OVEN TEMPERATURE. This doesn’t hold true for most recipes, but I wanted to these to have a chewy texture with a longer bake. It totally works and they were absolutely perfecto.
4. CHILL THAT DOUGH. This makes a huge difference. Trust me on this one because I’ve never steered you wrong. I tend to chill all my cookie doughs really well. This will not only enhance the flavours and texture of the cookies, but also guarantee the “dreaded spread syndrome” in the oven. Do you know how many times I’ve totally screwed up a cookie by not being patient on the chill? You end up with one big mess and there’s no turning back.
5. THE TRUSTY ICE CREAM SCOOP. No matter what size you want your cookie to be, an ice cream scoop will guarantee that every cookie is uniform in size. It’s the easiest thing in the world to use and I love the way my cookies look even BEFORE they go into the oven. Additional note to point #4 above. I will scoop my cookie dough and chill them in the fridge before I bake them. This way, each ball of dough is well chilled and you end up with the perfect cookie.
6. ALWAY LINE YOUR BAKING PAN. I use parchment paper or my silpat silicone mats. This not only makes for an easy cleanup but guarantees that your cookies will not stick to your baking pan.
So, I wanted these to be the very best cookies ever and in my rush to get them packed up for the road trip to the office I did something really dumb. What? Instead of packing them in an airtight container with a tight fitting lid, I slipped them into large freezer bags. The end result? A few got crushed in transport! Did it make a difference that some were reduced to cookie crumbs? No, not really. I had a few volunteers whose hands were up and said “these are so good I would eat the crumbs off the floor”.
For those of you that are still baking for the holidays, these are perfect for a host gift or just to enjoy for yourself. Nothing says lovin’ like these cookies straight out of the oven.
- 1 cup semi - sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 1 1⁄2 cups brown sugar (packed)
- 2 extra large eggs
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups oatmeal (quick cooking old fashioned - I use the 1 minute)
- Optional add ins and garnishes
- Dried Cranberries
- Melted dark chocolate
- Fleur de sel
- Shredded Coconut
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cream and beat together (using electric or stand mixer) the butter, brown sugar, and eggs.
- Mix together the flour (unsifted), soda, baking powder, cinnamon, oatmeal and add to the creamed mixture, using beater to mix.
- Last, add the chocolate chips
- With a spoon, mix them in lightly.
- Drop by tablespoons ( I use a cookie scoop) on parchment lined cookie sheets.
- If using dried cranberries, drop a few onto each cookie before baking.
- Bake them between 8 to 9 minutes.
- Cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack.
- Melt chocolate - I used two 300g bars. Dip cooled cookies halfway and garnish as desired. Enjoy!
- Note: depending on the size of your cookie scoop this recipe will yield 12 large or 24 smaller cookies. For larger cookies, increase the baking time to 18-20 minutes